…Court of Appeal’s jurisdictional overreach cannot alter already tabulated count
Following is a press statement from the PPP/C:
No doubt the PPP has won the March 2, 2020 elections by over 15,000 votes. Ever since APNU/AFC became aware of this reality they have done everything possible to thwart the will of the electorate and to prevent Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from declaring the true results of those elections.
The world has condemned their actions but yet they continue to employ one strategy after another in their efforts to hold on to Government illegally.
Their latest foray has been an unmeritorious legal proceeding filed in the Court of Appeal. In so doing, they basically disguised an Election Petition and contrived it wrongfully into a special jurisdiction created by the Constitution in which a challenge can be filed questioning the validity of the election of a President upon the declaration of the final results of elections.
In their legal proceedings, they did not challenge the election of the President on the ground of his qualification. In fact, the President has not yet been elected, as the results of the elections are still yet to be declared.
Moreover, this special procedure in the Court of Appeal has not yet been activated by enabling legislation to be passed by Parliament.
Yet, they wrongfully invoked the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal and managed to get two Judges to give themselves jurisdiction and declared that “more votes” mean “more valid votes”. Five other reliefs sought in the proceedings were refused by the Court of Appeal. Yet they claim that they won the case. The truth is that the declaration by the Court that “more votes” means “more valid votes”, amounts to a non-decision since any reference to “votes” in the Constitution and the Laws of Guyana can only mean valid votes. It is inconceivable for anyone to believe that a Government or a President can be elected by “invalid votes”.
Therefore, this ruling adds nothing to, nor subtract anything from, the current situation. In any event, during the recount exercise, the valid votes in each ballot box were totaled and placed upon a Statement of Recount. Each Statement of Recount in each Electoral District were then tabulated by GECOM staff, resulting in the end, the total valid votes for each Electoral District, which was certified, again, by GECOM staff. These total valid votes were then tabulated by the Chief Elections Officer and presented to the Commission as the total valid votes cast for the Regional elections and total valid votes cast for the National elections, showing the total valid votes received by each political party.
The Commission then further directed the Chief Elections Officer to prepare his report in accordance with Article 177 of the Constitution and Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act, using these aggregate valid votes which he already tabulated and submitted to the Commission. So, we reiterate that the Court ruling, yesterday, has brought nothing new to the equation, as only valid votes have been counted and tabulated throughout the process.
Moreover, the Chief Elections Officer must carry out the directions of the Commission under both the law and the Constitution and therefore, can only use valid votes generated under the national recount exercise as the basis for preparing his reports.
Further, the Commission has also made it very clear that they have no power or jurisdiction to hear or determine any allegation of irregularities or illegalities allegedly committed during the elections, and that any such allegations must be presented to the High Court in the form of an Election Petition. The Caricom observer team has made a similar conclusion in their report. In addition, the OAS, the Commonwealth, the European Union and The Carter Center and the ABC Ambassadors have all, publicly, called upon GECOM to use only the results of the national recount as the basis for the final declaration of the results.
However, elements within the Government, including the Office of the Prime Minister have uttered public statements suggesting that the Chief Elections Officer will present a report in which he will, in effect, invalidate some 275,000 valid votes cast. In this regard, elements within APNU+AFC have already started to celebrate “victory”.
Somehow in their warped minds, they interpret the Court of Appeal ruling as giving them victory, upon some “legal technicality”. It is clear that in a conspiracy, the Chief Elections Officer’s plan is to disenfranchise some 275,000 Guyanese, who voted on the 2nd March 2020, consisting of approximately 60 percent of the persons who voted at those elections and thereby giving APNU+AFC a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly! He plans to do so by merely acting upon the false, hearsay and untested allegations of APNU+AFC and without conducting any investigation and upon affording no voter, or any other political party an opportunity to be heard, to test these allegations, or to lead any evidence of their own. Needless to say, the Chief Elections Officer has no power, or authority, to do any such thing. If any Chief Elections Officer is so empowered, then such a person, by himself, will determine a new Government at any elections, irrespective of the will of the electorate.
This will not be democracy, but anarchy. Moreover, the Court of Appeal in its pronouncement have plunged the law in total confusion and it is now no longer clear how an election of members of the National Assembly is to be challenged and how the election of the President can be challenged. In fact, the Court of Appeal has wrongly ruled that these two challenges must be done separately and in different Courts.
To bring clarity to the law and to guard against the Court of Appeal wrongly giving itself jurisdiction, again, to either direct the Chief Elections Officer to submit a fraudulent and perverted report, or to protect a fraudulent and perverted report submitted by the Chief Elections Officer to the Commission, we have decided to file an appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
We anticipate that this appeal will be heard and determined speedily by the Caribbean Court of Justice to enable the true results of the election be declared and Dr. Irfaan Ali be sworn in as the next duly elected President of Guyana.